Introducing Elvia! Fashion Revolution Week 2019
It is coming to the end of Fashion Revolution Week and for those of you who aren’t familiar with Fash Rev, it is a global movement that lasts all year round with a week long campaign in April that encourages consumers to ask #whomademyclothes. The campaign falls on the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed 1138 people in Bangladesh on the 24th of April 2013. During Fash Rev Week brands are encouraged to share their supply chain and be transparent with customers by using the hashtag #imadeyourclothes.
This time of year can be quite overwhelming and we are often given this new information from brands all at once. We share the makers of our pieces on our Artisan Page, so all year round you can learn about our artisan partners. This year we wanted to do things a little differently and introduce you all to Elvia Gomez Lopez from the Jolom Mayaetik Co-operative.
Moacir and I pictured with Elvia (left) and Liz (second from left)
Elvia is the president of Jolom Mayaetik and she represents all of the co-op members who come from 11 communities in the Chiapas Highlands of Mexico. Elvia is a Tetzal Maya woman, who is not only the president, she is a daughter, an artisan, a business woman and a single mother to her son.
Elvia's son Cristian with his grandmother Albina
Elvia grew up in Yochib which is an hour and a half away from San Cristobal de las Casas, the closest city. We were lucky enough to visit her family and friends during our time in Mexico 3 years ago. The Jolom Mayaetik team explained to us that of the 3,000 people living in Yochib, 85.6% speak the indigenous language of the area and 50% speak Spanish. We have also learned that the average level of education for women was 5.29 years and 21.47% of the population can’t read or write. 26.8% of the adult population are employed and for women this % is just 2.8%. This is why initiatives like Jolom Mayaetik are so important.
Elvia's family and friends in Yochib
Elvia completed her high school education, however due to a lack of organisation in the community she was unable to receive her high school certificate. When she was 25 she gave birth to her son Cristian (who you can see in our photos), she became a single mother and was living with her mother in Yochib. During this time, Elvia’s mother founded Jolom Mayaetik and she encouraged Elvia to join the co-op, however Elvia was fearful of leaving her home town. Two years later Elvia found the courage to join the team and moved to San Cristobal de las Casas.
When she arrived Elvia began a 9 month training program where she learned administration skills, how to label products, use a calculator and soon enough representatives from Jolom Mayaetik voted her in as secretary of the board. Her hard work saw her also being voted in as president in 2013.
Elvia also has great aspirations for the future. Now that she knows Spanish she would love to receive her high school certificate and also complete a bachelors degree. She wants to continue to inspire and empower the Jolom Mayaetik women and share their art with the world. She also has dreams of her son coming to live with her in the future.
Jolom Mayaetik explains that they are “very proud of the career, training and dedication of Elvia, and we believe that it is necessary to make her history known to understand the impact and effort that this cooperative makes on the lives of many female artisans, so that they achieve their goals and find a way to take charge of their lives”.
This Fashion Revolution week, we simply ask you to remember that message. There are people behind every piece of clothing, every accessory or home decor. For us they are people like Elvia and we are so happy to share her story with you.
The Jolom Mayaetik women create many of our blouse, bag and homeware designs that you can find online at the link below! You can also find their designs at the Sunshine Coast Collective Markets tomorrow.
Thank you so much for reading Elvia's story.
-Thanks to the Jolom Mayaetik Website for the factual information found in our blog. You can read more here: https://jolommayaetik.wordpress.com/
Also in Our Journal
Today we are launching a very special collection that is so close to our hearts and we want to give you all an insight into how these pieces came to be.
We often get asked about how we connect with our artisan partners. For us, we have found most of our makers by being on the ground in Mexico or Guatemala. We do a lot of research and spend time in each community. It can be difficult to form new partnerships while living in Australia, so sometimes we come across makers via the wonders of social media.